What does it mean to you?
The latest hysterics blaring from the TV is about a new virus in the United Kingdom (UK). Presented in a way meant to cause anxiety and with very limited information, it is the media’s way to keep you glued to the channel for the next commercial break. I am going to attempt to break down this new virus, and the vaccine in very simple terms.
First some terms:
CoViD-19: Corona Virus Disease 19. First discovered in the city of Wuhan, China, caused by a unique (new) virus. We consider this location the epicenter of the disease.
SARS-Cov-2: Severe acute respiratory syndrome – Coronavirus – 2. The official name for the Virus discovered in Wuhan, China.
Vaccine: Something put into your body to cause an immune response. The idea is that if your immune system has seen something before, it can quickly get involved when you see the same thing again. The faster your immune system kicks in, the faster you clear the disease – and the less sick you get.
Hapten: This is what the antibodies attack.
Virulence: How many infectious particles does it take to get you sick.
Variant: In infectious disease, it is an infectious particle (virus, bacteria, ect.) that is basically the same as the original, but changes the covering around the particle. This is done as part of evolution. To become more infectious, get away from the immune system, grow better in different environments, etc.
The Variant Virus
The new variant in the United Kingdom is not a new virus. Simply, there was a single change in one of the proteins on the outside lining of the virus. This is not the first variant to emerge, but may be the first important one. Now, this can be a very big deal, or not a big deal at all. With this info being so new, we are trying to figure this out. Right now, it looks like it is a mixed bag.
All the vaccines have one thing in common, they all get the immune system to attack the virus at a specific point. This target, is a protein on the membrane of the virus. Think of it as a specific type of tree sticking out of the ground. Change the leaves on the tree, and it looks different. If it looks like a Pin Oak, they attach. If it looks like a White Pine, they leave it alone. This is the virus’s hapten.
This variant changed the tree. Not enough to fool the vaccine. The vaccine, and your antibodies, will still see this virus. Your body will still see this as the same SARS-CoV-2 virus that needs to be cleared. Good news!
Now the not-so-good-news. The change made these trees attach to your cells a lot better. Think about it as sticking to your cells so the virus can get in. The ACE-2 Receptor is where this virus attaches, then gets pulled into your cells. This new variant really holds on a great deal better, and can get into the cell easier and in larger numbers.
This is part of virulence. So people whom are already at risk. Those are people whom have Diabetes, are older than 60, have multiple medical conditions, etc; all have increased numbers of these ACE-2 Receptors. They need lower number of viruses to become very sick.
Unfortunately, everything is too new to assume anything else on what this variant will do. But as a comparison, this is what the Influenza A and B virus do each year.
Want to know what is in the vaccine? Here is the lists. Basically, it is the Hapten, which is a modified piece of RNA that the antibodies go after, some lipids to activate the immune system, (or more vulgar – it pisses off the immune system to get it going) and buffering agents to make it not hurt your body when it goes in. Here they are!
1) A nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 (this is what makes the shot work)
2) Lipids (which turns on the immune system): (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N, N-ditetradecylacetamide; 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol.
3) Buffers / Stabilizers: Monobasic potassium phosphate, Sodium chloride (salt), Dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, Sucrose (sugar).
1) Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)
2) Lipids: SM(sphyngomyelin)-102, Polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC], and cholesterol
3) Buffers / Stabilizers: Tromethamine, Tromethamine hydrochloride, Acetic acid, Sodium acetate, Sucrose (sugar), & Potassium chloride.
Please, don’t listen to the media. That sounds horrid, but unfortunately in the United States, they have every reason to be treated with mistrust and condemnation. On my site, I try to give good, concise, non-political information. But I am not the end-all, and information constantly changes. Use good information to make your own decisions. Not Facebook, or Twitter, or “journalistic web sites”. Go to the sources. Universities, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control. Yes, they are political – but you can read right through that.
Best of luck. For our patients, call with questions. If you want to become our patient, just call the office and we will get you set up.
Sources: Journal of Infection